Tuitagi Momoe is a case worker with the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG), an NGO at the forefront of Samoa’s response to domestic and gender-based violence. In his daily work, Tuitagi responds to calls to the SVSG Helpline for victims of violence, and guides victims to the appropriate services provided by SVSG or national authorities.
“My role requires compassion, an understanding of the legislation governing the issues affecting our people – usually family matters – and a commitment to work after hours and during the weekend”
In cases of serious violence, SVSG provides an important link between victims of violence and law enforcement and judicial authorities. “As a case worker, I have to refer cases of violence to the Police for the official lodging of complaints, and then apply for interim protection orders on the victim’s behalf through the court system”, says Tuitagi. “It is important that this process is completed quickly, for the safety of victims and their children.”
The past months have seen a sharp increase in the number of calls to the SVSG Helpline, likely as a result of economic hardship and restrictions on movements caused by the COVID-19 crisis. For Tuitagi, the increased workload coupled with the limited number of staff allowed at work during the lockdown has been challenging. It is also difficult to deal with cases referred through email and Facebook, while respecting people’s requests to remain anonymous. Nevertheless, he is convinced that the work of SVSG is making a difference in the lives of victims of violence.
“Being able to respond immediately to a call for help, and follow through by providing the help needed – right up until the end – is the greatest difference us caseworkers make in the lives of our communities”